Being a Ballerina

The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life

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Pub Date 27 Apr 2021 | Archive Date Not set

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Description

A look inside a dancer’s world

“This is the best book I’ve ever read about becoming and being a dancer. Every word rings true.”—Robert Gottlieb, editor and dance critic

“Larsen relates in great detail and remarkable prose how she became a ballerina. With her we enter a school. With her we enter a theater. With her we listen in the wings and rush out onto the stage, the destination of her desire, the music her guide. We read about the difficult training that must be mastered and the fragility of the body during the process of learning technique. We learn about the joy of performance. I loved reading it.”—Allegra Kent, former principal dancer, New York City Ballet

“Gentle, genuine, and honest, Larsen shares her experiences generously, offering a compelling glimpse into a ballerina’s world—one that beautifully illustrates not only what it takes to become a professional dancer but what it means to be a ballerina.”—Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, author of So, You Want to Be a Ballet Dancer?

“I laughed out loud, cringed, and teared up relating to the joys and trials that a career in ballet requires and that Larsen so vividly conveys. Her wit and humanity bring behind-the-scenes experiences to life with the candor of a good friend along with the invaluable insights of a real ballerina. If you want to be a ballerina or want to know what it takes to be one, this is a must-read.”—Elysia Dawn, arts consultant and former dancer

Inspiring, revealing, and deeply relatable, Being a Ballerina is a firsthand look at the realities of life as a professional ballet dancer. Through episodes from her own career, Gavin Larsen describes the forces that drive a person to study dance; the daily balance that dancers navigate between hardship and joy; and the dancer’s continual quest to discover who they are as a person and as an artist.

Starting with her arrival as a young beginner at a class too advanced for her, Larsen tells how the embarrassing mistake ended up helping her learn quickly and advance rapidly. In other stories of her early teachers, training, and auditions, she explains how she gradually came to understand and achieve what she and her body were capable of.

Larsen then re-creates scenes from her experiences in dance companies, from unglamorous roles to exhilarating performances. Working as a ballerina was shocking and scary at first, she says, recalling unexpected injuries, leaps of faith, and her constant struggle to operate at the level she wanted—but full of enormously rewarding moments. Larsen also reflects candidly on her difficult decision to retire at age 35.

An ideal read for aspiring dancers, Larsen’s memoir will also delight experienced dance professionals and fascinate anyone who wonders what it takes to live a life dedicated to the perfection of the art form.

Gavin Larsen was a professional ballet dancer for 18 years before retiring in 2010. A principal dancer with the Oregon Ballet Theatre, she also danced with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet and Alberta Ballet and as a guest artist with Ballet Victoria. She has written for Pointe, Dance Teacher, Dance Spirit, Dancing Times, Oregon ArtsWatch, Dance/USA’s From the Green Room, the Maine Review, and The Threepenny Review, among others. She writes and teaches in Asheville, North Carolina.


A look inside a dancer’s world

“This is the best book I’ve ever read about becoming and being a dancer. Every word rings true.”—Robert Gottlieb, editor and dance critic

“Larsen relates in great...


Advance Praise

“This is the best book I’ve ever read about becoming and being a dancer. Every word rings true.”—Robert Gottlieb, editor and dance critic

“Larsen relates in great detail and remarkable prose how she became a ballerina. With her we enter a school. With her we enter a theater. With her we listen in the wings and rush out onto the stage, the destination of her desire, the music her guide. We read about the difficult training that must be mastered and the fragility of the body during the process of learning technique. We learn about the joy of performance. I loved reading it.”Allegra Kent, former principal dancer, New York City Ballet

“Gentle, genuine, and honest, Larsen shares her experiences generously, offering a compelling glimpse into a ballerina’s world—one that beautifully illustrates not only what it takes to become a professional dancer but what it means to be a ballerina.”Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, author of So, You Want to Be a Ballet Dancer?

“I laughed out loud, cringed, and teared up relating to the joys and trials that a career in ballet requires and that Larsen so vividly conveys. Her wit and humanity bring behind-the-scenes experiences to life with the candor of a good friend along with the invaluable insights of a real ballerina. If you want to be a ballerina or want to know what it takes to be one, this is a must-read.”Elysia Dawn, arts consultant and former dancer  

“This is the best book I’ve ever read about becoming and being a dancer. Every word rings true.”—Robert Gottlieb, editor and dance critic

“Larsen relates in great detail and remarkable prose how she...


Marketing Plan

Gavin Larsen is available for virtual interviews, including blogs, websites, radio, and TV.

Bound ARCs have been provided to long-lead reviewers. A very limited number of published copies will be available by request in late March.

All inquiries and requests should be directed to Publicist, David Ivester at david@author-guide.com.


Gavin Larsen is available for virtual interviews, including blogs, websites, radio, and TV.

Bound ARCs have been provided to long-lead reviewers. A very limited number of published copies will be...


Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9780813066899
PRICE $26.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 12 members


Featured Reviews

Being a Ballerina by Gavin Larsen is a wonderful memoir that gives the reader a first-hand and fascinating view into the wonderfully complex world of ballet. Through Gavin’s story, the reader can follow all of the difficulties, sacrifices, obstacles, and passion that is needed to fullfill one’s dream in dance. It was fascinating to see how the world of ballet is different when moving from adolescence to the professional arena. Her descriptions and literary narrative was excellent in describing events, thoughts, feelings, and her true love of the profession. I participated in ballet, then pointe when I was younger, but had to give things up for running when I started high school. I have always have a soft spot and passion for it still to this day, and I truly enjoyed this book and Gavin’s journey. I am very grateful to her for sharing her story with us. 5/5 stars enthusiastically This book is not just for dancers. It is for anyone that has ever participated in any sport or art and also knows of the hard work, sacrifices, ups and downs, and the ultimate moments of satisfaction that makes it all worthwhile. An excellent read. Thank you NG and University Press of Florida for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately (as of 3/11/21 no BB listing has been created) and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.

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I truly love this reading. It was a closing and accurate look at a dancer's life, I felt a connection with her all the book, not only with the ballerina one but with her enthusiasm and love for the world of ballet. The way she describes our passion for ballet is so touching. I cried in some chapters feeling in my deep all her words. I'll leave one of my many favorites parts of the book, and I'm sure this won't ruin your lecture: “ Everyone should dance. Everyone should let their soul sing. We all deserve to feel our spirits expanding past the boundaries of our skin, to be powerful without needing to hold power over anyone else. Dancing takes the most beautiful, extraordinary, and universal instrument -the human body- to its fullest, highest, most complete capacity. Physical body, intellectual mind, emotional spirit, interpretative artistry all unite in even the simplest classroom exercise. When I dance, I feel like I am sharing a gleeful, knowing chuckle with our creator: I’ve found the key to sublime paradise on earth, which he has masterfully “hidden” by putting it in the most obvious place -our muscles, tendons, bones and indeed, every cell of our bodies. When dancing, one need not to go to church to seek out the divine. I’ve found my spiritual salvation in the dance studio. And I’m not alone. Everyone should dance.“ If you're a dancer or was, or just a ballet world enthusiast, read this book, you'll love it. Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read it.

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A brilliant look at the real life of a ballerina.We are. brought into the authors world from the very young age of eight.She shares the day to day work it takes to be a ballerina all the rehearsals the pain the long days.A fantastic behind the beautiful costumes the beautiful dance honest open raw.look at her world. Perfect gift for anyone considering this life or will be fascinated by this world.#netgalle#upressofflorida

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